Dallas Colleges: Jared Barnett
Here's an update on the Big 12's recent notable transfers. The results are all over the map.
Garrett Gilbert, transferred from Texas to SMU in 2011: Struggled in 2010 during Texas' 5-7 season, despite a strong showing in relief of Colt McCoy in the 2009 national title game against Alabama. Earned a starting position in June Jones' offense in Dallas and threw for 2,932 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season. He'll start as a senior in 2013.
Keith Nichol, transferred from Oklahoma to Michigan State in 2008: Nichol was a superstar recruit but lost a quarterback competition to some guy named Sam Bradford. After taking his talents to Lansing, he earned some time at quarterback as a sophomore in 2009, but found a home at receiver. He finished his career with 50 catches for 625 yards and four touchdowns, highlighted by a game-winning, Hail Mary touchdown to beat Wisconsin in 2011. He also threw for 826 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jevan Snead, transferred from Texas to Ole Miss in 2006: Played some in relief of Colt McCoy, but left for Oxford in search of playing time and found it. Carried the Rebels to a Cotton Bowl win and threw for 2,762 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2008. A year later, he tossed 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and racked up 2,632 yards. He left Ole Miss early, but wasn't drafted.
G.J. Kinne, transferred from Texas to Tulsa in 2008: Kinne never cracked the field at Texas, but had a huge career as a Golden Hurricane. He threw for just under 9,500 yards, ran for 1,365 yards and accounted for 96 total touchdowns in three seasons as starter. He went undrafted and hasn't caught on in the NFL, but is under contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Connor Wood, transferred from Texas to Colorado in 2011: Wood couldn't get on the field at Texas, but sought playing time in Boulder, and it looks like he's found it. After Nick Hirschman transferred last week, Wood is Colorado's likely starter in 2013, and has three years of eligibility remaining.
Jacob Karam, transferred from Texas Tech to Memphis in 2012: Was eligible immediately because he had already received his degree. He won the Tigers' starting job and threw for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He'll be a senior, and the starter again in 2013.
Scotty Young, transferred from Texas Tech to Louisiana Tech in 2012: Never got on the field for the Red Raiders and sat out the 2012 season at Louisiana Tech. He's in good position to be the Bulldogs' starter next season, replacing Colby Cameron.
Drew Allen, transferred from Oklahoma to Syracuse in 2013: Allen served as a backup his entire career, but after receiving his degree, started looking for a place to play out his career. He believes Syracuse is the place to do it, and he'll compete for the starting job in the fall.
Jared Barnett, transferred from Iowa State to Illinois State in 2013: Barnett earned a place in ISU lore when he led the Cyclones to a win against undefeated, BCS No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011, but struggled after that and throughout 2012. He finished the season on the bench behind Sam Richardson and elected to become a Cardinal after the season. He's eligible immediately, because his new team is an FCS school.
Bobby Reid, transferred from Oklahoma State to Texas Southern in 2007: Reid was the subject of Mike Gundy's infamous "I'm a man, I'm 40!" rant, and later said he felt like that rant ended his "life", though Gundy was defending his player. He threw for 1,791 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions at Texas Southern in 2008, but he and Gundy seem close again. He joined Gundy's staff in an administrative role this year.
Rhett Bomar, transferred from Oklahoma to Sam Houston State in 2006: Bomar's transfer wasn't his choice. Bob Stoops famously kicked Bomar off the team in the wake of reports that he had received payment from a local car dealership without doing the work. That was an obvious NCAA violation. He played just 19 games over the next two seasons, but finished as the school's all-time leader in passing yards, with 5,564 yards. He was a finalist for the 2008 Walter Payton Award as the nation's best FCS player. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by the New York Giants, but has been out of the NFL since May 2012.
Jordan Webb, transferred from Kansas to Colorado in 2012: Started two seasons for the Jayhawks, but left town when Charlie Weis brought Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps with him to Lawrence. He played 10 games last season, throwing for 1,434 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He tore his ACL in spring practice, though, and is questionable to get back on the field this fall. He's not helping his case to regain his starting status by getting arrested on felony assault charges last weekend.
A quick note on the rankings: Only one player per team was allowed. I picked the best QB on the teams that shuffled throughout the season, and didn't include players who left the team or were ineligible to end the season.
1. Collin Klein, Kansas State: Klein is not your traditional quarterback and not the kind of guy the Big 12 has made its offensive reputation behind. What he is, though? A leader who showcases his toughness and a good enough passer to make K-State one of the nation's most efficient offenses and forces defenses to respect him on deep and intermediate throws. He completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,646 yards and rushed for 925 yards, accounting for 39 touchdowns.
2. Geno Smith, West Virginia: One would think if you win the Big 12 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honor, throw 42 touchdowns to just six picks and rack up almost 4,200 yards passing, you'd win it easily in the postseason. Not the case. Smith was fantastic this year and might be the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft. Smith is clearly the Big 12's best "passer," but he's not quite the Big 12's best quarterback.
3. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones' experience is unmatched in this league, but he never quite got over the top as the Big 12's best quarterback. He was always solid, even if he might be vulnerable to a big mistake. He threw an interception in each of his final seven games at OU, but he also racked up 30 touchdowns and 4,272 yards. He threw for at least 3,000 yards in each of the past four seasons and leaves as the No. 3 all-time passer in FBS history.
4. Nick Florence, Baylor: Florence led the Big 12 in total offense by almost 40 full yards per game. Not only did he lead the league in passing yards with 4,309, he added almost 600 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. He filled in admirably for RG III, and it's a shame he had to burn his redshirt in 2011 after Griffin suffered a head injury.
5. Seth Doege, Texas Tech: Doege was second nationally with 39 touchdown passes and had a solid senior season. There were some rough games, sure, but he was third in the Big 12 with 4,205 yards. The biggest negative for Doege that bumped him down this list? A Big 12-high 16 interceptions.
6. Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State: Only took one Oklahoma State quarterback for this list, but Chelf was the steadiest this season for the Pokes, and the only one who didn't get hurt. Chelf threw for 15 touchdowns and just six picks and averaged just under 200 passing yards a game. He also ran for 162 yards on just 31 carries.
7. David Ash, Texas: Ash had a really strong start and looked like one of the Big 12's best quarterbacks early in the season. He flirted with the FBS lead in passer rating before coming to Earth a bit late in the year and getting benched against KU and suffering a rib injury late in the year. He still threw for almost 2,700 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight picks.
8. Trevone Boykin, TCU: Boykin had to fill in for the Frogs' Casey Pachall, but had his biggest successes in two situations: Broken plays that required him to scramble and deep balls. The rest of the offense seemed to struggle at times, but Boykin definitely made it interesting. He completed just 57 percent of his passes and had 10 interceptions to his 15 scores, but he hung in there and helped carry the Frogs to a seven-win season.
9. Sam Richardson, Iowa State: Richardson emerged from nowhere to win the Cyclones' quarterback job in the final weeks of the season and prompt a transfer from 2011's season hero: Jared Barnett. Richardson is a prototypical passer who also has wheels and threw eight touchdowns to just one pick in the Cyclones' final three games.
10. Michael Cummings, Kansas: Cummings stepped in for a struggling Dayne Crist, but didn't offer much after doing so and couldn't get KU over the hump to get a Big 12 win. BYU transfer Jake Heaps is likely to slide in front of Cummings on the depth chart next year after Cummings completed just 45 percent of his passes for three touchdowns and four interceptions. He did make some plays with his feet, though it was hard for the yardage to show that was the case because there were so many sacks.
Kansas State is not a team of robots and will not win the national title. Or the Heisman. I don't know what I watched on Saturday night, but surely it wasn't Kansas State. The Wildcats turned the ball over three times after doing so just six times in 10 games. It was penalized seven times for 60 yards, more than twice its average. It got gashed on the ground in a way unlike any game all season. Add it all up, and you get a painful butt-kicking in a big spot for the Wildcats. K-State had been so consistent and so methodical all year long. Until it wasn't. "We beat the socks off these guys," Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon said. Yes, yes they did.
There might be a new star born in Ames for the bowl-bound Cyclones. Fans were clamoring for Sam Richardson for weeks, and the freshman finally got his chance after uninspiring starts from Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett. He torched Kansas for four second-quarter touchdowns and threw for 250 yards on 23-of-27 passing. Yes, it was only against 1-10 Kansas. Yes, it's early. But you have to be encouraged, and most importantly, Iowa State is back in the postseason. They'll take it.
Oklahoma is back in the Big 12 title hunt. The Sooners needed help to make an eighth Big 12 title become a reality, and on Saturday, Baylor provided it. There will be drama on the season's final weekend, and the title will hang in the balance. Oklahoma hosts Oklahoma State in Bedlam next week and travels to TCU to end the season, while K-State hosts Texas on Dec. 1. They're tied atop the standings right now, but there's a whole lot to play for and if you lose a game, you risk being booted out of the BCS.
Oklahoma State better scare you. Quietly, the Cowboys have surged and Mike Gundy has done about as good of a job as anyone outside of Bill Snyder this season. For the fourth time in five games, Oklahoma State beat the heck out of a Big 12 team. This time, it was a 38-point win over No. 23 Texas Tech. Four of Oklahoma State's five Big 12 wins have been by at least 21 points. And the only team that came close? Kansas, who at 1-10, lost at home on a rainy day by just six. The Pokes have done it all with three different quarterbacks, but for now, it's Clint Chelf's team. Healthy J.W. Walsh and the CarWalsh formation have given another edge to the Cowboys' offense.
Johnny Manziel takes over the Heisman race. He might have been playing in a glorified scrimmage with Sam Houston State in town, but Manziel had another terrific day on the football field. He threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 100 yards and adding two more scores. Manziel has an SEC-leading 1,114 rushing yards, which is a new NCAA record for a freshman quarterback. He also broke former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen's freshman record for total offense of 3,827 set in 2000 on the Aggies' first drive. Manziel is now the fifth player and first freshman in FBS history to pass for at least 3,000 yards with at least 1,000 yards rushing in a season. What helps him even more is Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein tossed three interceptions in Kansas State's 28-point loss to Baylor and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner ran for just 66 yards in the Ducks' loss. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is still there, but it looks like Manziel is the new leader in the Heisman race. -- Edward Aschoff
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: West Virginia has played the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week in its past four games. That's not quite a coincidence. Jones is in line to become the fifth. He set a school record with 554 yards on 38-of-51 passing and threw six touchdowns in Oklahoma's 50-49 win over West Virginia in Morgantown. His final score of the night was a 5-yarder to Kenny Stills, who caught four on the evening and won the game with just 24 seconds to play.
Sam Richardson, QB, Iowa State: The freshman had been waiting all season long for his chance, and he took advantage when Paul Rhoads gave it to him. He broke out in a huge way in Iowa State's 51-23 win over Kansas, completing 23-of-27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. He also ran for 43 yards and a touchdown to get the Cyclones bowl eligible for the third time in four years. Four of his touchdowns were in a crazy second quarter that helped Iowa State race to a 38-17 halftime lead.
Zack Craig, S, Oklahoma State: When you're hot, you're hot. Craig blocked two Texas Tech punts and returned the second one 30 yards for a touchdown during Oklahoma State's 59-21 win over Texas Tech. For any special teamer, that's a fantastic season. Craig called it Saturday. He added a tackle for loss on defense. That's quite the performance.
Isaiah Anderson, WR, Oklahoma State: Anderson didn't touch the ball in the second half, and only touched it five times in the first. Sometimes, that's all that's necessary. He scored touchdowns on three of his four catches and finished with 174 yards. He scored on plays of 60, 66 and 33 yards and added a 26-yard run on his only carry of the game, an end around.
Baylor's offensive line: Can't really give it to one back or one player on Baylor's team in Saturday's 52-24 evisceration of Kansas State. The big uglies up front took care of business and treated K-State's front seven like nobody had all season long. The Bears ran for 342 yards and five touchdowns and averaged 7 yards a carry on the Big 12's No. 2 rushing defense. Nick Florence wasn't sacked, and scoring 52 points on this K-State defense isn't easy. Every Baylor skill position player was in awe at their performance after the game.
Tavon Austin, RB/WR/KR, West Virginia: Normally, helmet stickers are reserved solely for players on winning teams, but I couldn't resist here. Austin put on one of the greatest shows in Big 12 history in the 50-49 loss to Oklahoma. In his first game at running back, he rushed 21 times for 344 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 82 yards and returned eight kicks for 146 yards. That's 572 all-purpose yards in one game. Are you kidding me?
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Johnny Football just keeps putting on a show every week. In the Aggies’ 47-28 win over Sam Houston State, he passed for three touchdowns and ran for two touchdowns and just may have taken the lead in the Heisman Trophy race. The only thing he did wrong was miss an extra point in the third quarter. Manziel became the fifth player and first freshman in FBS history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. -- Chris Low
1. Remember all the little people. K-State has dealt with the distraction and hype really well this season. The Wildcats have been consistent and solid every week. This week, though, the pressure is at a whole new level. They're the nation's No. 1 team. Collin Klein's presence will test the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Oklahoma State lost in its 11th game last season. K-State should roll Baylor on paper, but can it keep its focus in uncharted territory?
2. To care or not to care, that is the question. West Virginia was hyped all offseason for this game. Carrying a four-game losing streak into the Oklahoma game was not part of the plan, though. It's asking a lot for fans to come in droves and provide a big-time atmosphere. Will the Mountaineers fans do it and try to help their team reach bowl eligibility? Tough test for a fan base that has had a pretty terrible month or so and hasn't seen a win since Oct. 6 or a win in its home stadium since Sept. 29.
4. Just do it. If Kansas is going to beat Iowa State, it will do so on the backs of its, uh, backs. Tony Pierson and James Sims are fantastic. Charlie Weis talked about needing to do creative things to run the ball when everybody knows the Jayhawks are going to run the ball. Well, everybody knows KU is going to run the ball. What does Weis have prepared this week for KU's best chance to crack its 19-game Big 12 losing streak?
5. Get a medical team on it, stat. Klein's injury saga is over, but K-State has more injury issues this week to keep an eye on. Starting safety Ty Zimmerman left the stadium in a boot last week, and Tyler Lockett suffered an ankle injury late against TCU. Both are key pieces to the nation's No. 1 team. Will they play, and will they do so effectively? All bets are off in this one.
6. At what point does someone start swiping chairs? Oklahoma State has played musical chairs at quarterback, and it shocked a lot of folks when Mike Gundy confirmed J.W. Walsh was available last week but didn't play. He is not on the depth chart this week, instead with an "or" between Clint Chelf and Wes Lunt. The good news: All three can play, and OSU can win with all of them. The bad news: This is turning into a bit of a circus. At least it's unpredictable for opponents, so that plays to OSU's advantage while the competition has to prepare for all three.
7. If you're so inKleined. A.J. Klein has had a quiet couple of games since Jake Knott's injury, making just 11 tackles total in the past two games after tallying at least 11 in three of the past five before Klein left the field. Klein has moved to weakside linebacker and wants more production out of the position. Iowa State needs that while Jeremiah George replaces Knott and the duo teams up to slow KU's running game.
8. Gotta fix the leaks. Oklahoma dominated Baylor's passing game, but the defense was hot after the game after giving up a season-high 252 yards on the ground to the Bears. Can WVU's Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie have a little success? Dana Holgorsen wasn't happy with the Mountaineers' run game, but this matchup will have an influence on the winner in Morgantown.
9. Time for the hook ... again? Steele Jantz has gone back to struggling after tearing up Baylor. He completed just more than 50 percent of his passes in consecutive weeks -- both losses -- and hasn't topped 200 yards through the air with one touchdown to three picks. If he struggles again, does Jared Barnett get a shot against KU? I seem to remember another Big 12 team switching QBs late and having it pay off.
We're back again with a quick look across this week's Big 12 schedule. I'll have my picks up in the morning, and I'll also reveal which game I'm headed to for Saturday.
Until then, let's hear your predictions in the comments.
Let's take a look:
TCU and Texas are idle. All times are ET.
No. 23 Texas Tech at No. 24 Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net): Last year's 60-point loss will be fresh in the Red Raiders' minds, but OSU has won three of its last four games, and all by at least three touchdowns. The Red Raiders needed double overtime to survive Kansas last week, but while Tech's Seth Doege leads the nation with 34 touchdown passes, the Cowboys are playing musical chairs with three different QBs. Two have been hurt, but both are back healthy and trying to unseat local cult hero Clint Chelf.
No. 12 Oklahoma at West Virginia (7 p.m., FOX): The de facto Big 12 title game, this is not. It is intriguing, though, and the Sooners will make their first trek to Morgantown and try to stay on track for another BCS bid. The Mountaineers' four-game losing streak is their longest in over a decade, but Oklahoma's odd season continues. It's suffered multiple home losses at home for the first time under Bob Stoops, but both came to undefeated teams.
Iowa State at Kansas (7 p.m., Fox Sports Net): Iowa State is hungry for its third bowl game in four years, but Kansas' powerful running game won't make it easy. James Sims has emerged as the Big 12's best back and has six consecutive games with at least 100 yards. The Cyclones are looking for improvement at quarterback, but don't have anywhere to turn beyond Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett's inconsistencies. KU's 19-game Big 12 losing streak might be on the line once again.
No. 1 Kansas State at Baylor (8 p.m., ESPN): Kansas State earned its No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history, but now comes the hard part: Playing with that bulls-eye on its back. Baylor has just one Big 12 win, and it came over last-place Kansas. The Wildcats have nine consecutive wins over teams from Texas, but SI cover boy Collin Klein will be an interesting sidebar to watch, too. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel is applying heat in the Heisman race. Can Klein bounce back from a below-average performance against TCU to win back a few votes?
The Bears won 10 games for only the second time in school history, and quarterback Robert Griffin III captured the Heisman. The Cyclones toppled second-ranked Oklahoma State late in the season to become bowl eligible for just the second time in six years.
But as Baylor and Iowa State prepare to play each other Saturday, both programs are on the verge of taking a step back.
After falling to Texas for the first time in three seasons, the Bears have opened the Big 12 with three losses. The Cyclones, meanwhile, were hammered by three touchdowns at Oklahoma State last weekend to drop to 1-3 in the conference.
Whoever loses Saturday in Jack Trice Stadium will be in danger of missing out on a coveted bowl game.
“We got to win six games minimum, so we’re halfway there,” said Baylor coach Art Briles. “We just have to keep fighting, keep scratching.”
Ranked third in scoring nationally, the Baylor offense has been more than good enough to win every one of its games. But the defense has been a disaster, surrendering at least 49 points in all three losses. The Bears rank last in the FBS in both scoring and total defense.
“We’ve been extremely close on two of our last three ball games," Briles said. "We just haven’t made plays at the end, haven’t gotten the breaks during the course of the game that determine the outcome.
"But you know, our towel is certainly still strapped over our shoulder."
The Cyclones have had the opposite problem. Spearheaded by linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, the Iowa State defense has been stout most of the season. But the Cyclones have struggled to score points, shuffling between quarterbacks Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz to little avail.
“Sitting here at 1-3 in the league is not a place we’d like to be,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. “We’ve had three seasons of three Big 12 wins, and we’d like to pass that. We’ve got five more opportunities and we’ll just see what we can do with them.”
There’s still time for Baylor and Iowa State to salvage their seasons, and take the steps forward they hoped to. But to get there, both desperately need a victory this weekend.
“We haven’t taken that step yet,” Rhoads said. “A lot of that talk was generated by myself, because we’re getting to a point internally that’s what we’d like to see ourselves do.
“We just got to keep competing and see if we can’t take that proverbial next step.”
Here's what I've got my eye on this week across the Big 12:
1. How much fight do the Irish have in the red zone? This is the best matchup of the season. Oklahoma's been stopped in the red zone one time all season, its offense mostly highlighted by the power running package less-than-affectionately known by Big 12 defenses as the Belldozer. Notre Dame, meanwhile, hasn't given up a rushing touchdown all season. Something's got to give.
3. A chance for a little touch-up. Iowa State's offense made Oklahoma State's defense look pretty good last week, preventing the Cyclones from scoring on nine consecutive possessions. The Cyclones burned TCU, though, and the problem is consistency. Can Baylor's defense show some fight this week? The Bears have been awful defensively for most of the season.
4. Since you're asking, they prefer cherry. Did the dam finally burst for Oklahoma State's defense when it comes to turnovers? The Cowboys had just four in their first five games, but forced a pair last week against Iowa State. This week, TCU brings in a redshirt freshman quarterback who's more talented than Iowa State's quarterback duo, but not as experienced. Can the Cowboys keep it rolling? Their six takeaways are still four fewer than any team in the Big 12.
5. He's Cummings, not going. Last week is not a very fair gauge of what Michael Cummings can do as Kansas' new quarterback. On the road against Oklahoma, the Big 12's best defense? Texas has the athletes, but the defense is struggling. Can Cummings look a little better this week after officially replacing Dayne Crist?
6. Focus pocus. Kansas State isn't a team that shows signs of a possible letdown, but this week's opponent will be even tougher than last week's, when the Wildcats rolled a struggling West Virginia squad. If Kansas State plays up to its potential, it wins this game. If not, Texas Tech can take advantage. Last year in Lubbock, even a five-win Tech team looked better than Kansas State for most of the game before a fourth-quarter rally by the Wildcats.
7. Another week, another shuffle. Iowa State is holding another open competition for quarterback after a rough outing at Oklahoma State last week. In that game, Jared Barnett was replaced by Steele Jantz. Who takes over this week against Baylor? Whoever it is has to produce, or the Cyclones will get rolled against a powerful Bears offense.
8. Tackle the guy with the ball. Kansas runs the ball better than you'd think, and should provide a tougher test for Texas' defense than many expect. The Longhorns have missed more tackles than anybody in the Big 12 this season, and if that continues this week, it could be a tight game. Is Texas up to the task of slowing Kansas' running game?
9. That's your Boykin. Still improving? TCU's fan base has embraced freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin, who keeps looking better and better, despite a tough loss last week against Texas Tech. He'll go on the road against a questionable Oklahoma State defense, but he's coming off a pair of games with four touchdown passes. Can he keep it rolling? He's looking more mature and more refined every week.
10. Stay on the balance beam. Notre Dame has one of the nation's best rushing defenses, but Oklahoma has really established a fantastic balance these past couple weeks. Do the Sooners roll with Damien Williams and try to run at linebacker Manti Te'o and the Irish, or look to take more advantage of speed on the outside and spread the ball a little more than they would against Big 12 defenses accustomed to covering that type of scheme?
Johnny Football's rebound: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel found second-half struggles in the loss to LSU, but he'll have the chance to really rebound this weekend against Auburn's floundering defense. The Tigers are giving up more than 400 yards a game, and Manziel has the ability to gash this defense through the air and on the ground. Manziel was getting some Heisman love before the LSU game, but his hopes haven't been destroyed. He can still make a run, and good outings against tough defenses in November will help. -- Edward Aschoff
1. Kansas State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12; last week: 1) The Wildcats are all alone in the driver's seat for the Big 12 title race, but Texas Tech could change that in a hurry next week if the Wildcats slip up. For now, though, it's going to be a fun week in the Little Apple with Collin Klein leading the Heisman race and K-State looking like a title contender.
2. Oklahoma (5-1, 3-1; last week: 2) If not for those two fumbles against K-State, would OU be the nation's No. 2 team? The Sooners have looked as good as, if not better than, any team in the country the past three weeks with wins by 21, 42 and 45 points in conference games. The Sooners need help to get back in the Big 12 title hunt, and even more for the national title hunt.
3. Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1; last week: 5) The Red Raiders are charging and are one of just three teams that control their Big 12 title destiny. The offense goes through dry spells, but the improved defense has given this team a chance in games all season long.
4. West Virginia (5-2, 2-2; last week: 3) West Virginia is sinking like a stone with two blowout losses in two weeks to good Big 12 teams. The Mountaineers aren't measuring up on defense, and now the offense looks like it has major issues. Just seven points on offense in Week 8, a week after scoring just 14 against Texas Tech? Trouble, trouble, trouble.
5. Texas (5-2, 2-2; last week: 4) Texas snapped a two-game losing streak and probably put to rest the questions (if only for awhile) about Mack Brown being on the hot seat. It's a silly debate at this point, fueled by frustration but with little basis in reality when you consider the losing streak consisted of just two games against then-top-15 teams. We'll see how the rest of the season plays out, but a big win for the Horns.
6. TCU (5-2, 2-2; last week: 6) The Frogs' resiliency impressed me against Texas Tech, but it's the same thing we've seen all season. TCU is playing on one foot with one hand tied behind its back right now when you consider the mountain of personnel losses but is still competing every week and is in position for a decent finish in the Big 12 in Year 1. Look out for this team next year. Devonte Fields, Trevone Boykin and LaDarius Brown are as good a freshman trio as you'll see in this league.
7. Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1; last week: 9) OSU's stock could shoot through the roof in the weeks to come, with five ranked teams waiting on the schedule. The Pokes got their best victory of the season Saturday in their worst uniform combo, rolling over a good Iowa State team. Let's see those orange helmets with black jerseys.
8. Iowa State (4-3, 1-3; last week: 8) ISU didn't have the horses to hang with the Pokes. The quarterback issue is a major one at this point, and it's got to be even more troubling to see Sam Richardson isn't getting a shot. The bottom line: You can't count on Jared Barnett or Steele Jantz to consistently deliver accurate balls every week the way you can with most of the quarterbacks in this league. That's a problem, but the Cyclones' defense keeps them alive fairly often.
9. Baylor (3-3, 0-3; last week: 9) My gut says Baylor is better than this, but let's hear from the Bears when they win a Big 12 game. High-scoring wins over Louisiana-Monroe and SMU looked good at the time, but Baylor's not guaranteed a bowl berth this season, and the Bears join Kansas as the only Big 12 teams without a league win yet. BU will get a chance to end its three-game losing streak next week on the road versus Iowa State.
10. Kansas 1-6, 0-4; last week: 10) Kansas made the switch and let Michael Cummings get a shot under center, but it predictably had little effect on the outcome. Cummings completed 10 of 21 passes with a pair of picks in the loss to Oklahoma, and ran for just 21 yards on 12 carries. James Sims is still a bright spot, but the quarterback issues are killing the Jayhawks this year.
Either way, Iowa State was the lone speed bump that derailed Oklahoma State's run to spot in the national title game last season, and the Cowboys earned a little revenge with a 31-10 win against No. 24 Iowa State.
It felt a little weird to see the Cyclones play on the road as a ranked team against an unranked Oklahoma State squad, but the Cowboys clearly looked like the better team, despite playing without receivers Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson, two of the team's top five receivers.
Charlie Moore filled the void, grabbing eight balls for 129 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown catch. He entered the game with just 11 catches for 191 yards.
The Iowa State defense slowed Joseph Randle for most of the day, but he set up Oklahoma State's fourth touchdown of the day with a 62-yard run down to the Iowa State 14-yard line. He finished with 151 yards on 24 carries with a pair of scores.
Wes Lunt didn't play, but J.W. Walsh joined him as a 400-yard passer this season, completing 32-of-47 passes for 415 yards and a touchdown without an interception. Lunt is still day-to-day, but you have to wonder if the redshirt conversation has to be coming if Lunt can't get back on the field.
It's a good win for the Pokes, who move to 4-2 and get their best win of 2012 by far. Iowa State falls to 4-3 and likely out of the BCS standings, but the Cyclones will certainly be in the mix for that sixth win to reach a third bowl in four years under Paul Rhoads.
Iowa State, though, has to figure out its quarterback issues first. OSU's defense has struggled for much of the season, but Iowa State's decision to shuffle in Steele Jantz late for Jared Barnett wasn't effective. Outside of Kansas, Iowa State might have the worst quarterback situation in the Big 12. You can't expect to make a bowl game looking like that.
The win is Mike Gundy's 63rd at Oklahoma State, passing his former coach Pat Jones as the winningest coach in school history.
It's about to get a lot tougher for an unproven Oklahoma State team, though. Just how good are the Cowboys? We'll find out over the next month with five more ranked teams waiting. Today was just the first of six games vs. teams in this week's BCS rankings. The Pokes host No. 23 TCU next week before traveling to No. 4 Kansas State and later hosting Nos. 13 West Virginia and 17 Texas Tech. The stretch ends in Norman vs. No. 9 Oklahoma.
The rest of the Big 12 will soon see exactly what the reigning champs are made of.
1. Kansas State (6-0, 3-0, last week: 2) Kansas State got a big win on the road at Iowa State as the teams below it in last week's rankings crumbled. Texas and West Virginia are on the schedule, but if only we knew what would happen if the Sooners and Cats played head-to-head! Life is good for the Big 12's last remaining undefeated squad.
2. Oklahoma (4-1, 2-1, last week: 3) The Sooners have turned on the afterburners the past two weeks with a pair of blowout wins against good Texas and Texas Tech teams. K-State's win in Norman was huge, but it might have been bad news for the rest of the Big 12. The Sooners look like an awakened giant.
3. West Virginia (5-1, 2-1, last week: 1) WVU falls to No. 3 this week, but there's nowhere else for the Mountaineers to fall, despite getting sufficiently humbled by Texas Tech in Lubbock. The offense had better figure out what went wrong and fix it quick. There's no time for the offense to feel sorry for itself. K-State is on the way this week.
4. Texas (4-2, 1-2, last week: 4) The Longhorns were humbled, as well, but the two teams below them on last week's power rankings didn't look sharp, so Tech slides up to the No. 5 spot and Texas has nowhere to fall. The Longhorns better hope Case McCoy is ready. David Ash's wrist didn't look good, and the hard truth is that Ash has largely carried this team to 4-2.
5. Texas Tech (5-1, 2-1, last week: 7) Texas Tech is the week's second-biggest mover. The Red Raiders' résumé is solid with wins over West Virginia and Iowa State, with the lone loss coming to an Oklahoma team that's playing as well as any team in the Big 12. Great stuff from the defense against the Mountaineers on Saturday.
6. TCU (5-1, 2-1, last week: 9) TCU makes a big jump here with one of the week's best wins. Baylor looked like a good team, and TCU looked like it was in a whole lot of trouble after getting run out of its own stadium by Iowa State. Not this week. Trevone Boykin bounced back and, suddenly, TCU's hopes for the rest of the season look pretty buoyed.
7. Baylor (3-2, 0-2, last week: 5) Baylor's in the frustrating spot of being 0-2 in Big 12 play and now has to play a Texas team reeling from an embarrassing loss of its own. BU's offense turned it over six times against TCU and forced zero. The Bears have a great offense, but no offense can do that and still win a game.
8. Iowa State (4-2, 1-2, last week: 8) ISU offered a valiant effort against Kansas State and nearly pulled off another huge win in Ames, but Kansas State's late-game execution was too much. The Cyclones' Jared Barnett looked pretty average against K-State, but the defense is better than everybody in the Big 12 except Oklahoma.
9. Oklahoma State (3-2, 1-1, last week: 6) Oklahoma State is probably better than this, but show me the proof. A five-point loss to Texas? A six-point win over KU? Torching Louisiana-Lafayette? The Cowboys have the worst résumé of wins of any team in the Big 12. Gotta earn your way up in a league this tight from top to bottom. Wes Lunt might be back this week. That helps.
10. Kansas (1-5, 0-3, last week: 10) The Jayhawks came pretty close this week, but a late roughing-the-punter call killed the drama in Lawrence. Will Charlie Weis pull the trigger and start Michael Cummings next week? What, exactly, would he have to lose by doing so? Kansas doesn't have a win over an FBS team this season.
The Big 12 is more unpredictable than ever. What a crazy week. West Virginia provided the most eye-opening result, laying an egg on offense and getting dominated by Texas Tech in all three phases. TCU was left for dead by most (including yours truly) after last week's Iowa State loss but walked into Waco and rolled over a good Baylor team with a strong fourth quarter. Oklahoma looked like the national title team (and then some) many expected it to be before the season. Texas looked like a disappointment. Oklahoma State's 22-game streak of scoring at least 30 points ended ... against Kansas?! By far the craziest week in this league in a long time.
Oklahoma has the Big 12's best defense. The Sooners left Texas bruised and battered, but they've got a fantastic defensive résumé so far this season. They shut out UTEP's offense and gave up one long touchdown to Florida A&M. K-State's offense scored just 17 points, and Texas Tech managed just 13 before a garbage-time touchdown. Until less than five minutes were left on Saturday and OU led 56-9, Texas had two first downs and hadn't scored on offense. Mike Stoops' arrival is already paying off.
Kansas State in the clutch is terrifying. K-State needed points and needed them badly. It got three, and it took eight minutes off the clock to do it. Quarterback Collin Klein converted three third downs (two passing, one rushing) to keep the drive alive, and the Wildcats took more than half of the fourth quarter to shorten their 27-21 win versus Iowa State. This team simply knows how to win tight games, and the defense didn't let Jared Barnett and the Cyclones even threaten to score on a possible game-winning drive. Pressure doesn't seem to ever affect the Cats.
It's time to stop holding out on Texas' defense. The Longhorns faced some great offenses to start the Big 12 season, and some (myself included) were willing to give a talented group the benefit of the doubt to fix the tackling issues that showed up in wins over Wyoming, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. Not anymore. They might turn it around later this season, but this Texas defense has proved disappointing, and though the offense has been better than most figured, the defense is simply overrated.
The Big 12's off to a strong start, but which man on the sidelines gets your vote for the league's best so far?
Before the season, Bill Snyder was asked about his team's modest preseason expectations. The Cats began ranked outside the top 20 despite coming off a 10-win season and returning 17 starters. Snyder? He suggested he'd vote his team 99th to start the season and give his team a little extra motivation. Regardless, K-State became the first ranked team to ever beat Bob Stoops in Norman, and the Wildcats look like a title contender at No. 6 in the polls.
Geno Smith is running a one-man race for the Heisman Trophy and the Big 12 newbies have the league's best offense. Oh, and about that win in Texas in their first Big 12 road game ...
Texas' rebuilding job looks complete, and now it's just about winning games. Though the defense has had issues, quarterback David Ash might be the most improved player in the conference, and Texas' offense has carried the team so far this season. There's no shame in a close loss to a top-5 team, and Texas already went on the road and beat a very good Oklahoma State team.
Briles' Baylor team is inexplicably not ranked, even though its only loss is on the road by seven points to a top-5 team. The Bears probably have the Big 12's No. 2 offense, and despite losing Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and the Big 12's leading rusher and receiver, BU still ranks No. 2 nationally in total offense.
Rhoads is up to his old tricks, knocking off teams as an underdog. He's already beaten Iowa and TCU as a road underdog, and with the TCU win, Iowa State joined Ohio State as the only teams in college football with a road win over a ranked team in each of the past three seasons. ISU debuted in the coaches' poll this week and sits at 4-1 through five weeks. Rhoads is the only coach to have to make a quarterback switch this season because of something other than suspension or injury, and it paid off against TCU. Jared Barnett hooked up with Josh Lenz for a pair of long touchdown passes in the first quarter.
Here's what I'm keeping an eye on this week across the Big 12.
1. Frogs stick together. It's been a trying couple of weeks for the Horned Frogs, but can this team rally without its best player, quarterback Casey Pachall? It didn't get the job done at home last week against Iowa State. Baylor is a better team, and TCU is going on the road. What do these guys have in their tank?
2. Tackling ain't for dummies. Texas' tackling issues have been obvious and continued last week against West Virginia. Longhorns coach Mack Brown admits it's an issue but says plenty of other people will be missing tackles against the Cowboys and Mountaineers. Probably, but there are plenty of good offenses across the Big 12. Oklahoma is one of them. Can the Longhorns get back to looking like what most people thought this defense would look like?
3. Keep the bad man at bay. We've seen Good Landry in this game -- he was on full display last year in the Sooners' blowout rivalry win. Texas is putting big-time pressure on quarterbacks this year, even if its linebackers and defensive backs are having tackling issues. That means plenty of opportunities for Bad Landry to make an appearance. Can Landry Jones be all good, fight off the pressure and avoid mistakes?
5. Time to bounce back. The last we saw Baylor's defense, it was having fun giving up 70 points on the road to West Virginia. TCU will be a much different task, with a much less capable arm at quarterback. The Bears will be without one of their best defenders, cornerback Demetri Goodson, who's out for the year with a broken arm. How does BU's defense look, and can it force TCU into some mistakes?
6. Get your binoculars out; we're QB-watching. Once again, Oklahoma State faces the question: Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh? Lunt is back practicing after injuring his knee, and coach Mike Gundy says he's "day to day." Does OSU try to get him on the field now and ease him in against an opponent it should beat easily? Or does it stick with Walsh and give Lunt more time to heal?
7. Keep on running it up. West Virginia looked good running the ball against Texas, but that hasn't been the case as much since Shawne Alston went down. Alston's status is in doubt, but can Andrew Buie keep it going against Texas Tech and keep relieving that pressure on Geno Smith? Texas Tech's defensive line is underrated and can get a push up front.
8. They're not perfect, but they're pretty dang close. Kansas State's game against Iowa State might be the most physical game it's played all season, including against Oklahoma. So far, the Wildcats have just nine penalties, four fewer than any other team in the nation and 11 fewer than any other team in the Big 12. The Wildcats also have just three turnovers this season. If they keep doing that, Iowa State doesn't have much of a chance to win. Will K-State keep it up?
9. Total carnage, or improvement? Kansas looked decent against TCU, but Oklahoma State will be the first bona-fide, powerful Big 12 spread offense the Jayhawks have seen this season. If you want to win in the Big 12, these are the offenses you have to figure out how to slow down. KU's defense has looked improved, but this is the best offense the unit has seen. If OSU scores 50 points without much resistance like last year, KU is going to feel a lot like not much progress is being made.
10. Learning how to Doege. Texas Tech senior quarterback Seth Doege had one of his worst outings ever and just his second three-interception game last week in a loss to Oklahoma. If he doesn't play well, Texas Tech has absolutely zero shot to win this game. Will he bounce back and silence the ridiculous calls for him to be benched in favor of Michael Brewer?
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